The walls of 14-year-old Daizha Moton’s room are decorated with honor-roll awards, first-place ribbons, trophies and now a replica of her $2,000 scholarship check for songwriting.
The recent Stafford Middle School graduate claimed first prize in the Lyrics for Learning competition on May 18, adding this as one of many accomplishments for a youngster who has been competing since she was 4. The scholarship Moton was awarded is to be applied to a two- or four-year college.
When she was just 3, Moton caught the eye of Oprah Winfrey with an audition tape exhibiting her photographic memory and oratory skills.
Heady stuff for most. But this Missouri City singer, songwriter, actress, artist and orator, who loves to create and perform, remains humble and even empathetic as she uses her skills to create a better place.
With her song, “My Change is Gonna Come,” about the importance of uniting as one regardless of skin color or ethnicity, Moton wrote the lyrics while watching the news.
“I thought about what is going on and to make things right, we need to come together,” Moton said. “Right means no more violence, no more fighting, everybody come together without regard to skin color or ethnicities.”
Her lyrics and performance so impressed judges – culled from the 10 participating school districts and celebrity judges – she claimed first place in the middle school competition and was chosen to play the lead in a video the organizers created on bullying and suicide prevention.
The Lyrics for Learning competition is part of a student empowerment program created by founder and director Sena Pierre, who is also head of a nonprofit organization called “You Are A Queen.” The inaugural lyrics competition gave away scholarships, gifts and prizes to elementary, middle and high school students.
JV McQueen of Missouri City Middle School placed second to Moton, while Lake Olympia Middle School’s Alexa Castaneda was third. In the elementary school competition, the top three finishers were Elijah and Isaiah Williams of Ridgegate Elementary, Jermaine Betts of Briargate Elementary and Kendrea Lewis of Stafford Intermediate.
Moton got involved after seeing a flyer for the competition while at her Stafford Middle School. The competition, held at the University of Houston main campus, featured celebrity judges including 2013 American Idol contestant Vincent Powell.
“We had judges in the music industry, producers, fine arts directors from Katy, Cypress and Aldine,” Pierre said. “With their experience in the industry they were looking for range, tone, content of lyrics, was it impactful, meaningful and their overall performance. That’s how winners were chosen.”
The “You Are A Queen” nonprofit hosts several events to empower female students. The Lyrics for Learning competition included male students as well.
Pierre, a Houston native, has a background in fashion. She modeled from seventh to 11th grade and was flown to New York for fashion week shoots, where she said she encountered peers with self-esteem issues.
The experience prompted Pierre to focus on bullying and suicide prevention, which was the theme of one-, two- and three-minute videos she created with Moton as the star. Pierre hopes to show them in schools.
“We are reaching out to several districts,” Pierre said. “We have a king and queen curriculum, a nine-week program for students covering self-esteem, bullying, being a friend, speaking out and letting an adult know what is going on.”
An excerpt of the video was shown during the awards presentation. In it, a group of students surround Moton’s character, pushing her to the floor and telling her no one likes her. The character calls her mom to say she is being bullied, but her mom is unavailable.
The scene ends with the character pouring a handful of pills into her hand and segues into the next suicide prevention video.
Moton and other students received the script for the video one morning with plans to film that afternoon. The quick turnaround surprised some students, but Moton asked her mom to rehearse with her in their time-tested tradition.
Makeba Moton realized her own intensive memory skills as a child when her father read Stephen King stories to her when she couldn’t sleep and she quoted them back. When Daizha was born, her mom wondered if her daughter had the same talent and started reading to her and playing alphabet games on the computer before she was a year old. So by the time Daizha was 2, she was reading, and she memorized the 30th Psalm by the age of 3. That impressed Winfrey.
Makeba enrolled Daizha with a modeling agency and by the age of 4, she was performing in local plays. Her boundless creativity led her to try her hand at writing, singing and memorizing all the presidents and the names of 254 countries and their capitals. That particular skill set was recently highlighted by the Stafford Municipal School District featuring Daizha in a PSA on voting.
She also was excited about acting and singing and has written 30 songs, including a recent piece she wrote for a middle school friend devastated by a boyfriend break-up. In the catchy song called “Move On,” Daizha reminds the friend that she is important, has value and is surrounded by loving friends. She was pleased to learn her friend listens to the song daily.
She has also written two books, one featuring an unpopular student who is always getting in trouble in school until he encounters an angel.
“Bullying is a heartbreaking subject,” Daizha said. “I’ve never been bullied but I know some people who have been. In doing that video it really hurt my heart that people get bullied and I stand up for them.”
When she is not writing and singing, she is drawing, and recently won a scholarship for the Glassell School of Art. Daizha actually won two scholarships to the school but could only take the summer offering as her schedule of school, acting and singing conflict. She will study digital art on the computer at Glassell. Her drawing of the Stafford Middle School Spartan mascot graces the cover of the 2019 yearbook.
She is excited about the prospects of starting at Stafford High School in the fall.
“Daizha Moton is an amazingly talented student and the entire Stafford Municipal School District is very proud of her,” superintendent Robert Bostic said.